This Is A Wonderful, Old Business
We’re currently hard at work on the December issue and the special supplemental section we’re planning for it: an editorial hats-off to some companies that are celebrating major anniversaries, including FER—we’re turning 20!
Looking into the histories of some of these companies is really fun; it reminded me of a note we received from one of our readers, Madeline Ferrentino. FER Publisher Robin Ashton had written a lovely obituary for Vinnie Guarriello, former executive v.p.-sales at Blodgett-Pitco. It prompted Madeline, his sister-in-law, to write to us; her thoughts provide a neat glimpse into the past.
“My brother-in-law Vincent worked for my father, Frank Mastro, President of Frank Mastro Inc. located at 232-242 Bowery, New York. My father invented the portable gas pizza oven that was manufactured for him by the G.S. Blodgett Corp. in Burlington, Vermont. When the latest model of his pizza oven was manufactured, for which he received royalties, Blodgett asked him to travel for them to show dealers and pizzeria owners how to use his oven to its best advantage. My father was unable to leave his full-service restaurant, hotel and institutional supply business and recommended Vinnie to them instead. So before anyone else, Vinnie sold pizza ovens on the Bowery from about 1939 and into the 1940s for Frank Mastro Inc.” She says credit is due Mr. Brogan at Blodgett who convinced the manufacturer to build the Mastro-designed oven as well as the Brooklyn Union Gas Co. and Robertshaw Controls Co. And, of course, recognition goes to “my father, who spent an inordinate part of his business life promoting pizza as a reasonable adjunct to his customers’ menus during the Great Depression.”
Madeline says her father also worked hard to promote the use of stainless in restaurant kitchens, which wasn’t the norm before 1935. “When I see all of the stainless equipment in restaurants today, I know his message finally got across,” she says. He once offered to sell a stainless refrigerator at cost rather than a white enamel one at full price, just to get it in use. “He never stopped! All of the equipment made by the fabricators on the Bowery—dough retarders, sinks, worktables—he had made out of stainless steel.” He knew it was superior, and he was right.